Up to a dozen Grenfell firefighters ‘diagnosed with rare cancers’

Up to a dozen Grenfell firefighters ‘diagnosed with rare cancers’ thumbnail

Several Grenfell firefighters have been diagnosed with terminal cancer in the years after the blaze.

An investigation by The Mirror reveals there could up to a dozen cancer cases following the disaster, which killed 72 people in west London in June 2017.

Fire service sources told the newspaper how some firefighters only in their 40s are battling deadly cancers, and they are suspected to be linked to high exposure to pollutants.

The majority of diagnoses are for digestive cancers and leukaemia with some being terminal, but other illnesses have been highlighted including kidney failure, heart disease and strokes.

Officials are putting together a list of firefighters who attended Grenfell and have since been diagnosed with cancer.

The fire was caused by deadly combustible cladding and many of the residents who died were told to stay in their flats.

The source said they expect some ‘really depressing’ and ‘shocking’ data to be disclosed soon, but fear it is just the beginning because some cancers take up to 25 years to appear.

Up to 1,300 firefighters attended the Grenfell fire both inside and outside the tower block and in the days following.

Many who attended ran out of air in the tower, sat in contaminated suits for more than 10 hours and waited in a smoke-logged basement for up to six hours, The Mirror investigation found.

They were seen eating and drinking in their soot-covered protective clothing, which health experts allege could cause digestive cancer.

Research by the Fire Brigades’ Union and the University of Central Lancashire found firefighters who notice soot in their nose or throat are at least twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer.

It found they are twice as likely to have cancer if they remained in their PPE for more than four hours, as seen at Grenfell. 

‘This vital research proves that firefighters are suffering and dying from cancer, strokes, heart disease, and mental ill health as a result of going to work and protecting the public,’ Riccardo la Torre, Fire Brigades Union national official, told The Mirror.

‘We now know that firefighters are exposed to health and life-threatening contaminants as a result of their occupation, and certainly would have been at an incident the size and scale of the Grenfell Tower fire.’ 

He said the Fire Brigades Union is commissioning ‘further research’ to demand ‘proper protection and support’ for the firefighters who attended.

David Badillo was the first firefighter to enter Grenfell Tower.

He said: ‘On a personal level it’s very worrying. I’ve got two young kids and I want to see them grow up.

‘I’ve been scanned and nothing’s come up, thankfully, so far, but you don’t know what could happen in the future.’

Another firefighter in his 50s, who did not wished to be named, said he had felt suicidal since the fire and was not surprised people are being diagnosed with cancer.

Barry Jackson, 50, a firefighter for 20 years, noted how many of his colleagues developed the ‘Grenfell cough’ where they coughed up blood.

The National Fire Chiefs Council said the safety and wellbeing of firefighters and the public is its ‘number one priority’.

Metro.co.uk has contacted the Fire Brigades Union for comment.

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